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How to prevent overtraining when preparing for a marathon

Training for a marathon is more than just a casual long distance run every so often. It involves hours of repetitive loading on muscles, tendons and ligaments and requires building up your bodies capacity to sustain this level of loading. Poor training choices can easily lead to overloading and result in injuries before you even get to the start line. Preparation should involve a minimum of

Preparation time should be a minimum of 3-6 months to allow time for adaptations to occur, adding small, consistent increments in training load/volume.

In the initial phase of training, the aim is to establish a foundation of strength and endurance. This involves progressively increasing running volume at lower intensities and strengthening relevant muscle groups. This should be the longest phase of training and is the most essential to preventing injury.

Appropriate principles per week include:

  • 3-4 runs a week

  • 1 longer run, low intensity

  • No more than a 5-10% increase in running volume per week

  • Strengthening for lower limb and core muscle groups

  • Ensure appropriate footwear

  • Address biomechanical deficiencies (e.g. weaker leg, tight quads)

  • Can include 1 interval/pacing run per week/fortnight

In the later stages of training closer to the event, the aim is to be establishing a training volume capable of the distance required. This means being able to run 30km+ at the desired pace which will consist of increasing the frequency of pace/tempo runs per week if aiming for a time specific goal.

Appropriate principles per week include:

  • 3-4 runs a week. 2-3 of these at desired pace

  • 1 longer run, closer to race distance

  • Increased frequency of pace/tempo runs

  • Can reduce frequency of strength training

Tapering should be done approximately 3 weeks prior to the event which involves reducing the training volume to allow sufficient time for training adaptations, recovery, and optimal performance on race day.

Appropriate tapering principles include:

  • 10-15% reduction in training volume in 1st week

  • 25% reduction in training volume in 2nd week

  • Week prior, significant reduction in running volume for all runs.

Working with a physiotherapist during marathon training can help you reach your goal whilst avoiding pain & injury. They can do this by helping design you a strength & conditioning program to effectively increase your training loads. Plus they provide manual therapy as needed to treat and resolve aches and pains.

Our Physiotherapists will also be able to refer you on to other members of the In Stride team such as Podiatrists, Dietitians, Myotherapist & Massage Therapists to ensure all aspects of your training needs can be met.

Book your appointment online here.

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